Downturns offer Opportunities for Disruptors

Amidst all the doom and gloom, there is a lot of hope for start-up companies. Here is the good news: during a downturn, people tend to re-evaluate the way in which they do things. They go through the budget line by line. They question all their current expenses. And the are prepared to change things, even when it hurts.

This is bad news for all companies, young and established, who are offering the run of the mill products. The me-toos. But it is actually good news for all start-ups that are challenging the status quo.

I watched a presentation by Craig Elias the other day. Craig is a sales specialist. I have inserted a picture from his presentation below (I combined two slides to generate this one picture):

I agree with Craig. If you are profiting from the status quo, the a downturn will hurt you. If you need people to change their way to do business with you, then this is a great opportunity to get in front of potential customers. Solutions that offer a quick ROI, cut costs, or that reduce risk should be selling pretty well right now.

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Yesterday I got a call from my bank, HSBC. A young guy from my local branch called in to briefly talk to me. The conversation went a little like this:

HSBC: “Hi, I am just calling to follow up on the discussion you have had with one of my colleagues about the mortgage.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

HSBC: “The mortgage…?”

Me: “No”

HSBC: “So, you did not have a discussion about a mortgage?”

Me: “No”

HSBC: “Well,…are you interested in a mortgage?”

Me: “No”

HSBC: “Because, we have some very interesting offers…”

Me: “Listen, I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t want a mortgage and I will not be wanting one for some time. Do you think it is a good idea take up a mortgage right now?”

HSBC: “Aeh…”

Me: “Good bye, have a nice day.”

Excuse me? WTF? HSBC, the bank that lost over $10bn in the mortgage crisis in the US thinks it is a great idea for me to take up a mortgage in the UK, just as the market here is about to crash?

Yup, that is true, as I found out when I searched for this on Google News. They have a major push to sell people UK mortgages right now. See this Financial Times article here. Just to be clear, these guys know that I don’t have a mortgage and they tried to sell me one. They are not trying to help me get out of a tight spot.

Fantastic. These guys will never learn. I guess it doesn’t matter what is right or wrong, let’s just make a quick buck and to hell with everyone else.

Maybe my adaptation of the T-shirt says it all:

VC Wear

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Every Bill is Marketing

I have not been very productive at writing on this blog, will try to better myself.

BT Today I have learned a lesson of how to do some really interesting marketing. I got pitched a new service by my telephone company, BT. The new service is called “BT Vision”. Somehow, I didn’t really get to reading the pitch, as it seemd to coincide with the arrival of my BT telephone bill.

I know that a lot of people have been bitching and moaning about cable companies, after all, there is

However, I have to confess, I am totally unable to read my bill. I have no clue what I am paying for. All I can understand is the amount at the bottom, the rest is a total mystery to me. I have no clue when the billing period for this bill starts, or when it stops. All I know is that I am already paying until the end of April for the privilidge of having a telephone line. There is a ton of voice calls on my bill, but they are not itemised. I have no clue what the time period of these calls is. None at all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining about this. I am sure I can look it all up online and I am sure it will be fine. But think about it: I have a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge and I can’t understand this thing. This is how complicated it is. Literally. Amazing. It just boggles my mind.

How can these guys do this? They send out – regularly – something that simply destroys all trust I may or may not have in this company: they can’t even tell me what my cost in January were! And now they want to sell me BT Vision?!

All this just reminded me that every customer contact leaves an impression behind that impacts your brand. Just imagine: I could have received a very nice bill from BT: Costs broken down by date and month and type. Including VAT. I am private customer after all. They could have impressed me with a clear message: “When you are with BT, it is all simple and easy, you can trust us, here, why don’t you have a look at BT Vision?”

Reminds me all of Dale Carnegie: “The only way in which somebody will buy something is for them to want to buy it.”

But how can I want to buy something from a company that confuses me and where I have little trust?

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